Despite increased interest in healthy dining and restaurant nutrition labeling, consumers just aren't biting when it comes to new healthy menu items.
New survey findings from Mintel Menu Insights (MMI) suggest that only one in five restaurant patrons (20 percent) rank food health as an important factor when ordering dinner. Far more essential are taste and hunger satisfaction (selected by 77 percent and 44 percent respectively). And although more than three-quarters of adults claim they'd like to see more healthy menu items, barely half (51 percent) say they usually order them.
"There's definitely a dichotomy between what people say they want and what they actually do when it comes to healthy restaurant eating," says Maria Caranfa, a registered dietitian and director of Mintel Menu Insights. "Over eight in 10 adults told us it's very or somewhat important to them to eat healthy but when it comes to dining out, most people are really looking for taste, texture and experience. So healthy menu items need to perfect the balance between nutrition and flavor."
Mintel noted that price remains a deterrent to healthy restaurant fare. Moreover, the numbers of new healthy products are simply dwarfed by more indulgent offerings. During the first quarter of 2009, only 5 percent of new items carried a nutritional claim while nearly one in five new food items was fried.
MMI is part of Mintel International, Chicago.